From memory, we have provided 350,000 carbon dioxidedetectors and I think we are supplying 7,000 ventilators. I realise that that does not cover every school in the country but, on the other hand, not every school in the country has a severe problem, and many schools are dealing with it, in my experience, with a great deal of practicality and common sense.
I, too, welcome the Prime Minister’s statement. Will he reassure my vulnerable constituents that the move and general Government approach to covid is based on the trends in data, and that despite some still very high case rates, the risk of serious disease faced by a double-vaxxed and boosted individual is very low and they should continue to live their lives to the full, along with the rest of us?
My hon. Friend is completely right. Covid has caused a great deal of apprehension across the country, particularly among vulnerable people, in my experience. It is important as we go forward and recover our freedoms that they, in particular, regain the confidence to live their lives to the full, as we would all want.
First of all, this country is moving to zero-emission vehicles. The right hon. Gentleman talks about gas-guzzlers; we are supporting jet zero aviation. His big objection is to the science. He is obviously a complete climate sceptic. He should look at the graph that David Attenborough produced on the first day of the summit, showing the clear correlation between the huge anthropogenic spike in CO2 and the current rise in temperatures, and the way that temperatures have tracked CO2 volumes in the air over the last thousands of years. The science is absolutely clear. I think the people of this country know that it would be an economic disaster not to address it. What the people of this country know is that clean, green technology can deliver higher wages and fantastic jobs for generations to come. They see a great future in this.
I want to reinforce the point the Prime Minister has just made. Will he reassure my constituents that the goal of achieving net zero is not a burden to be borne, but an opportunity to be grasped to create new innovative jobs and new sectors in which we can lead the world?
Our green industrial revolution alone, the £26 billion we are putting in, generates 440,000 more jobs in battery technology, electric vehicle manufacture, wind farms and maintenance. The opportunities are vast for this country and we are at the cutting edge.
We remain committed to a generous and open approach to immigration. This country already does regularise the position of those who have been here for a long time and have not fallen foul of the law. What we will not do is go back to a complete free-for-all and abandon control of our borders to Brussels, which the right hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer) voted for 43 times in the last five years. I dare say that the hon. Member did, too.
I welcome the new climate commitments made by G7 countries to almost halve their carbon emissions by 2030, which will pave the way towards a green and global recovery. Does the Prime Minister agree that it is essential that we build on the historic climate change commitments made at the G7 with even stronger global commitments at the upcoming COP26 conference?
My hon. Friend is completely right. This was a good waymark and we made some good steps forward on the road to COP26. There is still a long way to go, but there is a great deal of enthusiasm from other countries because they can see that it creates high-wage, high-skill jobs as well as solving climate change.
I welcome today’s announcements of both an inquiry and the memorial, but may I also welcome the extraordinary progress that has been made that has allowed us further to lift restrictions? However, there are many individuals, charities, organisations and businesses that are still not confident to commit to further public events. Will my right hon. Friend therefore consider a covid indemnity scheme that will cover the costs of any last-minute cancellations that may occur due to ongoing restrictions to allow the planning of events to continue to avoid a second year of cancellations?
I thank my hon. Friend for raising this point; I understand exactly why he says it. The best thing I can tell him is that we want to proceed with the caution and certainty with which we have done so far. All the evidence I have seen at the moment suggests that we will be able to continue with our reopenings, and that the businesses that have done so much to get ready should be able to plan on that basis.
Of course, when we look at and read the report in detail, the Government are not going to agree with everything, but there are some interesting observations and some interesting ways of looking at things. We will be responding in due course, but what we say is that nobody should be in any doubt as to the reality of racism and the struggle that too many people face. We will do everything we can to stamp it out, particularly to help young black people get the jobs and the education they need.
As my right hon. Friend will know, as we build back better we need to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. Will he therefore agree to work with EngineeringUK and Big Bang Digital to provide a short online introduction to this year’s event to reinforce the message that a career in engineering is rewarding, creative and can transform the world around us for the better? Will he recognise the extraordinary contribution that engineers have made and are making in our battle against covid?
Engineers and scientists of all kinds have been crucial in the fight against covid, and this is the moment to become an engineer or work towards being an engineer. We are putting a huge £640 billion investment into the infrastructure of this country over the next few years. We will need skilled young people to go into engineering, and that is why we put in the T-levels. I congratulate my hon. Friend on his initiative, and I will do my best to support him.
They have not been excluded, and we continue to support people across the country. Furlough will indeed be continued further, as the hon. Gentleman knows. He should just bear in mind what I said to his colleague the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford): it is thanks to the might of the UK Treasury and the fundamental strength of the UK economy that we are able to make this support available across the whole of the UK.
I thank my right hon. Friend for his statement and commend him for his actions. Obviously, our clearest way out of these restrictions is to deploy the vaccine at speed and scale to protect those most at risk of serious illness. Will he therefore lay out plans not only on the first four groups in the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation list, but on how we intend to get the vaccine to other key groups, such as teachers, police officers and home carers, to keep our country running day to day?
My hon. Friend will have studied the JCVI’s list of priority groups, and my right hon. Friend the Health Secretary will be setting out a programme for rolling those vaccines out beyond the first four that I have already described.
I sympathise very much with the sentiments the right hon. Gentleman expresses about the loss of freedom and people’s frustrations; I do understand that, but I must say that I think what the people of this country want to see is this virus brought down. They want to see a reduction in the infection rate and, alas, at the moment this is the best tool we have to do that when we look at the whole national picture. But I am optimistic when I look at the scientific interventions that we have coming down the track, and even the medical and scientific advisers, who are not normally full of cheer on this matter, are optimistic when they consider the therapies, the prospect of a vaccine and the prospect of mass testing of the kind I have outlined to the House.
I thank my right hon. Friend for his statement. I accept that we need to do something to ensure hospitalisation numbers are controlled and the R rate falls, but will he please review the regulations around socially distanced outdoor sports such as golf and tennis, as these are good forms of exercise for all ages and present very little risk of infection?
I sympathise again with that point, and I am glad my hon. Friend makes it. All I can say is that hon. Members and members of the public should get on to the website and look at exactly what is permitted, but the reality is that we have to break the transmission of the disease, and that is why, I am afraid, I must, with great sadness, tell my hon. Friends that we have to make these restrictions for the next four weeks. I bitterly regret it, but that is what we have got to do.
Of course we have free school meals throughout term time—that is entirely right. We want to make sure that we continue to support people on low incomes throughout the crisis, and that is what we are going to do.
As my right hon. Friend will know, part of my constituency has now been placed under tier 2 restrictions. Can he therefore reassure everyone that if they stick to the rules, observe the “hands, face, space” message, and self-isolate when required, accompanied by suitable enforcement for those who blatantly flout the law, we will come out of these restrictions all the sooner?
My hon. Friend puts his finger on it. That is exactly what we need to do. The areas that go into high levels of concern are reviewed every 14 days, and the restrictions, as I told the right hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer), are reviewed every 28 days. The way to get through this is exactly as my hon. Friend says: to follow the guidance, particularly the “hands, face, space” basics.